What Kinds of Growths Form on Aging Skin?

Portrait of senior man in park
It’s the rare older person who does not have at least a few of the marks on his skin. (Image: XiXinXing/XiXinXing/Getty Images)

The older you are, the more likely it is you find harmless growths and age spots or liver spots on your skin. Skin that has been exposed to the sun for several decades is also more apt to develop cancerous spots or moles. Many different types of growths commonly appear on mature skin.

Lentigines

One of the most widespread and generally harmless sign of aging skin is lentigines. These flat brown areas that often appear on the face, hands, arms, back and feet are commonly referred to as age spots or liver spots. Skin care products that contain alpha hydroxy acids and prescription creams like tretinoin (Retin-A) may diminish the appearance of age spots.

Seborrheic Keratoses & Actinic Keratoses

Seborrheic keratoses resemble warts except they are brown or black. These benign growths appear as though they are fastened to the skin’s surface. If their appearance is bothersome, they can easily be removed by your dermatologist. Another common growth on older skin is called actinic keratoses. These red or brownish colored scaly spots can turn cancerous. In the early stages, they can be removed by freezing with liquid nitrogen or skin resurfacing. Advanced cases of actinic keratoses must be surgically removed.

Cherry Angiomas

A skin growth known as cherry angiomas afflicts more than 85 percent of people who are middle-aged and beyond, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. These benign, small, bright red, elevated bumps are the result of dilated blood vessels. They typically appear on the truck. Cherry angiomas removal techniques include laser surgery and electrocautery. Electrocautery involves inserting a needle into the skin; the needle is heated by an electric current to destroy tissue.

Atypical Moles

Atypical moles (dysplastic nevi) are bigger than regular moles. They measure at least a half inch across, and unlike normal moles, they are not necessarily round. Atypical moles can pop up anywhere on the body and range in color from tan to dark brown. They also may have a pinkish background.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer and most often strikes older people who are fair-skinned. Basal cell carcinoma can be detected by its small, shiny bump or pinpoint red bleeding area. It most often appears on the head, face and neck. When caught and treated early, it has a 95 percent cure rate.

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Malignant Melanoma

Malignant melanoma is a less widespread form of skin cancer that usually appears as a dark brown or black mole-like growth. Features that set it apart from a normal mole are its varying colors and jagged borders. The most frequent spots for melanoma in men are the chest and abdomen. In women it most often develops on the lower legs. Men over age 50 are at the highest risk of developing malignant melanoma.

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